Monthly Archives: March 2009

Video Log: Yarnia for Fiber Lovers

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kZlSVd0KAo&feature=player_embedded]

I like the corner for the husbands… :).

I actually went to Yarnia recently and made some very lovely bamboo/wool blend yarn that I’m using right now in raglan sweater for myself. As soon as I take some photos I’ll post it up here. I love the fact that Yarnia has some very beautiful heathered alpacas and wool threads to include in the mix. You could spend hours in there just playing with combinations.  I like matching analagous colors like families of greens with very different fibers like alpaca and silk or hemp and silk. What joy! I’m in fiber heaven when I’m in there.

Because I knit somewhat tightly, I’ve had to adjust my tension (loosening it) so that I’m not tugging to much on the yarn and causing some the strands to bunch up, but I love how the fabrics knit up.

Some people might complain about splittiness with this type of yarn, but I have to say… “Just rub some dirt in it” (i.e. sometimes you just gotta deal). If you want multistranded goodness you’re just going to have to compensate for the split factor. The overall effect of the colors and blending of fibers is well worth it to me. My bamboo/wool blend has a lovely spring to it. The boucle thread I chose for the combo has also added some grip to the fiber that prevents the bunching.

Leave a comment

Filed under Hemp yarn, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Wool, Yarn

More video log: Coraline’s Teeny Tiny Knitting (something to pick up the spirits)

Amazing… needles the size of a human hair! What a Labor of love. Did you hear that the removed the Jonas Brothers from the 3-D theaters to reinstate Coraline!  Yes…. that’s much better.

[Youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muce8MVqTaU%5D

Also, I’ve been feeling a little down in the dumps. It always helps me to listen to the “Pastoral Symphony.”

(Video is over 30 minutes long… but the music is worth it).

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZGb-Kjy0S0]

Leave a comment

Filed under Craft, Dolls, Knit, Knitting

The Elephant Story

Oy, it’s been that kind of a week already (and it’s only Tuesday), and I needed a laugh. I thought I’d share it with you.  I love to laugh… it’s the best medicine.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3qqE_WmagjY]

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Ultimate Geekiest Knitting: Programming a Scarf Design

I would love a knitting machine like this but I doubt I’d be able to afford it right now:

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bZm6hUXgYnU]

I can dream can’t I?

Leave a comment

Filed under Craft, Fun Stuff, Gadgets, Knit, Knitting, Math

Raglan Sweater Episode 2: Calculating Stitches & Casting On

I interupt this post to bring you more on swatching….

We interrupt this programming to...

We interrupt this programming to...

So I’m assuming you’ve selected your yarn and swatched it right? You’ve also washed the swatch in woolite or some other delicate laundry soap, and blocked it to see what the fabric (you’ve knitted) looks like and wears like after it’s been washed. Also if you plan to use different stitches like moss stitch and garter stitch with your sweater, you have blocked those pieces too. You know how old people begin some didactic story or lecture with the words ,”Let me tell you a story about…”? I’m not quite old yet but I’ve been leathered by more than a few knitting mistakes or disasters and I’ll tell you a story about a sweater I knit two years ago. This was my first raglan sweater. I used a ‘super-wash’ yarn and happily knit the sweater to the required measurements, but I skipped the blocking process. The sweater had a nice garter stitch hem at the waist and on the cuffs. It looked quite gorgeous and held it’s shape before washing. After washing the garter stitch hem stretched out, and despite my efforts to dry the sweater flat. The yarn stretched and the sweater turned into a tunic. How could I have saved this by swatching and blocking? If i’d swatched properly, I would have discovered that I needed to go down a few needle sizes for the hem and cuffs. I might have also see that my knitted fabric my stretch after washing.

If you want to keep a knitted garment for a long time and have it look fabulous through most of it’s lifetime, you really need to swatch and block. If you don’t care and you’re just knitting to make a sweater, then don’t block.

We now return to our usual program…

So if you’ve figured out how many stitches per inch or per length of four inches you get when knitting this yarn in stockinette stitch. Measure your chest and and take the number of inches from this measurement and multiply it by the number of stitches per inch.

knitnotes1

Using a cable cast on, I cast on 160 stitches on a needles that were two sizes smaller than the needles I would use to knit the body and sleeves. You can use a long tail or regular cast on if you feel more comfortable.  I knit garter stitch in the round for 6 rows. Remember garter stitch in the rounds is knit one round, purl the next and repeat.  I placed a marker at the beginning of the round, and another at exactly 80 stitches. After knitting the hem, I switched to the larger needles. At the beginning of the row I increased one stitch by creating a purl stitch at the first marker. I would create another purl stitch at the next marker.  I purled these two stitches instead of knitting them as I knit the length of the body in order to create a ‘false’ seam. I would also use these purl stitches to mark the beginning of the gussets I would create for the sweater’s armpits, but I’ll cover that in more detail later in the story.

Essentially, most of the sweater is knit as a stockinette tube. This is the most mindless part of knitting the sweater, and in some ways the most fun. I look forward to watching countless movies with subtitles as I knit this part of the sweater. I can put my mind in a sort of knit on auto-pilot.

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Garter stitch hem and stockinette body

Now, if you’re interested in learning how to calculate the yarn and dimensions of your own raglan sweater, I suggest you visit this site:  The Incredible, Custom-fit Raglan Sweater.

The Knitting Fool also has a wonderful Raglan Sweater Calculator. Fill out the stats and create your own pattern as a .pdf document. Please note the needle sizes refer to US sizes and you must knit a 4″ x 4″  swatch to estimate your gauge before running this program.

2 Comments

Filed under Garter stitch, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Stockinette, Sweater, Teaching, Yarn

Swatch Day and Blueberry Socks

I know I said I was going to write about swatching as part of my process in the whole “Raglan Sweater Series” of posts. I lied.

I know a lot of knitters don’t like hearing the “Sermon on the Swatch.”  Maybe it’s just part of the lesson. Knitting a whole sweater that doesn’t look or fit right. I’ll be honest. I have had this happen to me… more than once. As a result, I now swatch.

That’s all I’ll say on this subject for now.

I did have time today to swatch a few yarns I’ve been wanting to try… some yarns for spring: a cotton/hemp blend, Silky wool, and a mystery yarn from Yarnia that I purchased at last years Knit & Crochet Show (Fall). It’s a mystery because I lost the tag.

I’m a little worried that the Coto Canapone (cotton/hemp) is a bit heavy and stiff, but I think it will soften up after washing and blocking.  I’ve heard some really great things about using hemp and I’ve swatched some pure hemp before. It was a bit too harsh for my liking, and I realized that it would take many washings before I could get it to the softness I wanted. Though perhaps I should think of this as a trade off for the fact that hemp takes a lot longer to wear thin than cotton.  Apparently hemp had quite a history as a much used textile until recent times.  Perhaps with the economy being as it is… more people will turn to having durable clothing items rather than disposable ones they replace or trash every year.

I’m quite charmed by the Yarnia yarn.  Unfortunately the photo of the swatch I took doesn’t reflect the different greens\ and purple shades in this gorgeous yarn. Some people have noted that they find the loosely spun plies difficult and splitty to work with, but I’ve always felt that if you take proper care, even splitty yarn can make nice fabric as long as your knitting on the ‘snug’ side.

From top to bottom, Coto Canapone, Silky Wool, & Yarnia 'mystery yarn.'

From top to bottom, Coto Canapone, Silky Wool, & Yarnia 'mystery yarn.'

I was also able to finish my pair of Heritage Paint socks for the shop model for my “Toe up Socks” class coming up.  I have to say, this yarn is pretty fantastic. I think it’s pretty durable and still fairly soft with no itch. Plus it’s pretty inexpensive and the yardage is huge… 437 yards a skein. I found that the solid colors of this yarn are quite a bargain at around $12-13 dollars a skein. That’s a good price for yarn for handknit socks that should last quite some time.

My Blueberry socks in Heritage Paints

My "Blueberry" socks in Heritage Paints

Leave a comment

Filed under Fibers, Hemp yarn, Knit, Knitters, Knitting, Lace, Portland, Portland Knitters, Socks, Stockinette, Stuff I made, Teaching, Techniques, Yarn

Musical Interlude: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa

You may or may not remember that movie A Room with a View, based on E.M. Forester’s novel.

There’s a scene in the movie where the young heroine meets her love interest in a barley field dotted with red poppies. Their first  encounter is set to the music “Chi il bel sogno di Doretta,” and their kiss is accompanied by the crescendo in the aria sung by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa. As a side note, this film actually inspired me to take Italian while I was at Chicago.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MD1WxgnrY3I]

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tehft3GDw6k]

The scene I refer to is near the end of the first clip above and at the beginning of the second clip.

Now I’m not really the romantic type but the imagery from this scene accompanied by the music and Te Kanawa’s divine voice still causes my heart to rumble. For me this entire scene moved me more than the entire Titanic movie, which I never saw but felt like I had a thousand times from the descriptions and swooning of all the junior high students I used to teach. After listening to them carry on about how beautiful a love story that was, I nearly puked into the classroom aluminum wastebasket.  It seemed like such a melodramatic and ridiculously maudlin story. Not to mention, the classroom I was teaching in was pretty close to the choir room and guess which song I got to hear, over and over and over again… that little Celine Dion number the name of which I dare not repeat. I have to admit I haven’t seen the Twilight movie because I fear that it’s just really “Titanic” with vampires. Now, if it was “Titanic” with zombies, I might check it out.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiUoWCnGZTU]

Maybe I just like Romance more subtle and not so syrupy and weepy. As for Te Kanawa’s rendition of this beautiful piece almost inspires me to think of a sunshine colored lace shawl knit in maybe a blend of silk and merino.

2 Comments

Filed under Knit, Knitting, Lace